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Woman at Work (Open to any)


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Rating: PG-14
Content: N/A

Mature Content: Highly doubt it

With: Clara, not sure who else
Location: Lickskittle Diner
When: 6 July 1876
Time of Day: Morning

 

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Clara opened the door of the diner right on the crack of 8:00 AM, the usual opening time of the popular diner on Main Street. Now she herself had been hard at work a good two hours earlier baking and doing other food prep. Normally she and Emeline, the real owner of the place, did such things together but now today she was on her own for the first time. Yesterday Em and her brand new husband, Pike, left on a long trip ...somewhere, she wasn't even sure where just that it was to celebrate their very recent wedding. Em deserved it, Clara was so happy for her.

 

Clara knew there would be some who would question whether a girl of sixteen could manage a business like this on her own but she herself was beaming with confidence. It was a matter of being willing to put in the long hours of hard work and also know what one was doing. On that second category, Emeline had prepared her well. As for the first, Clara had always been a nose to the grindstone hard worker especially since the death of her mother when she had had to assume the mantle of cook, laundress, and housekeeper.

 

It didn't take long for the first customers to walk on in, a married couple, Tom and Victoria Weaver.

 

"Morning, Mr. and Mrs. Weaver," Clara greeted them.

 

"Good morning, child, we are here for the usual breakfast," Mr. Weaver smiled as he escorted his wife to the far corner table, their usual spot.

 

"Coming right up then," Clara nodded and sprang into action. Another day, another dollar!

 

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Ben walked into the cafe and took a seat at one of the empty tables.  If someone were to say to him six months ago that he would be up before nine o'clock in the morning, he would have thought they were crazy but here he was.  Even though he managed to find a game of poker on most days, not many of them went on pass midnight.  Kalispell was a quiet town where gambling was concerned and for that matter, entertainment as well.  Thankfully, he was in the middle of making plans to ammend the entertainment problem and if successful, make him some money as well.

 

So, here was at his favourite (well to be honest the only place in town) cafe.  As he waited, for the young girl to finish serving the Weavers, he looked around the room.  He had made a habit of getting to know who was wherever he went just in case he needed to and Tom Weaver was no exception...they had even played a friendly round of cards a few times.  Other than the Weavers and himself there were no-one else but that would likely change as the morning went on.

 

Seeing that Clara had finished with the Weavers, he waved for her to come over.  "Good morning.  Is it possible to have some bacon and eggs?"

 

@Wayfarer

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She wasn't particularly looking for him, Arabella was just nosy. She pressed her face up against the big glass-fronted window of the diner so that she could see inside without the reflected glare of the morning street interfering with the view. From inside her figure was a just a slight, vague, dark silhouette: except for her nose, of course, which was squashed flat against the glass, leaving a greasy smudge, and a circle of mist as she gasped, seeing who was inside. And it wasn't Mr & Mrs Weaver she was interested in, either. 

 

She was sitting in the chair opposite Ben before the tinkly bell over the door had even finished chiming. 

 

"Good Morning, Mr Simons!" she beamed, her eyes round and staring , her smile almost manic. Stronger men than Ben Simons had turned and fled at this foreboding sight.

 

"I heard me a rumor!" she informed him.

 

"I heard me a rumor that you was openin' a theater!" she ginned even wider, if that were possible.

 

"You do know that I happen to be the most accomplished dramatic actress, pianist, tumbler and general all-round entertainer to ever come out of the Old Dominion, o' course." she reminded him. Reminded, because she was always telling folks about her talents, when she wasn't actually demonstrating them to anyone who couldn't get away fast enough, so he must have heard. 

 

@JulieS

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Clara did not even need to scribble down the couple's order, it was always the same so she simply stated she would bring it out soon and two cups of coffee also, for the Weavers liked their coffee served with the meal not before. 

 

But there another familiar customer who had entered and seated himself by then, Mr. Simons. She didn't know a lot about the man, such as exactly what all he did for a living but he was always so well dressed and groomed, shoes shined, hair trimmed and combed.  He was definitely not a cowboy.

 

Approaching his table upon his wave (showed he must have made up his mind on his order), she greeted him, "Good day to you, Mr. Simons."

 

"Good morning.  Is it possible to have some bacon and eggs?"

 

"Of course, sir. Would you like toast with that? And anything to drink? Tea or coffee?" she nodded.

 

(That part is all happening before Ara's invasion. By the time Ara sits down to harass the poor man, Clara will be in the kitchen preparing orders.)

 

@JulieS

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"Of course, sir. Would you like toast with that? And anything to drink? Tea or coffee?" she nodded.

 

"Toast would be fine and make it a coffee," Ben answered.

 

As he waited for his order, Ben began to think about what he needed to do today...

 

"Good Morning, Mr Simons!" she beamed, her eyes round and staring , her smile almost manic. Stronger men than Ben Simons had turned and fled at this foreboding sight.

 

Ben meekly smiled at the girl.  Here was another person he tried to avoid most days when he could but alas today wasn't one of those days.  "Good morning, Miss Mudd."

 

"I heard me a rumor!" she informed him.

 

"Well, with a town the size of Kalispell, I would be surprised if there wasn't any rumours," he said in a light-hearted tone.  He was hoping that as she as she told him whatever the rumour was, that she would be leaving to tell someone else.

 

"I heard me a rumor that you was openin' a theater!" she ginned even wider, if that were possible.

 

For a moment, he wondered where she had heard about his plans to convert a large, disused building near the centre of town into a theatre.  He, then remembered, his earlier statement.

 

In order to get Arabella on her way, he nodded, "I am and when the first play is on, I will make sure you get a complimentary ticket in return for your interest."

 

"You do know that I happen to be the most accomplished dramatic actress, pianist, tumbler and general all-round entertainer to ever come out of the Old Dominion, o' course." she reminded him.

 

Oh, good Lord, the girl was telling him in no uncertain terms that she was interested in performing at the theatre.  He knew of her talents at playing the piano from the times he had been at the saloon but if he was to hire someone from there, it would the singer, Caroline Mundee.  Miss Mundee was the type to help fill seats, while Arabella was more likely to keep them empty.

 

Smiling, he leaned forward slightly, "Well, thank you for reminding me. I'll certainly keep you in mind when the time comes."

 

Hoping that it was enough to placate the girl, he began to look for the return of Clara.

 

@Javia @Wayfarer

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Smiling, he leaned forward slightly, "Well, thank you for reminding me. I'll certainly keep you in mind when the time comes."

 

Hoping that it was enough to placate the girl, he began to look for the return of Clara.

 

"So will you be hiring touring repertory companies or forming a local one?" she asked "Then, o' course, you'll be wantin' to get some of the big stars in with the touring Combination Companies, that'll be easier if you have a local Rep Company!" she pontificated, explaining his business plan to him.

 

"Now with a Local Rep you'll need actors, musicians, set designers and builders, scenery painters, lighting, front of house, costume makers: I can help you out there, I'm best friends with a professional seamstress..."

 

She looked up at Ben, her confident, brash and talkative exterior suddenly buckling, as she gave a tight-lipped grimace of desperation.

 

"Oh,  Mr Simons, I know folks round here think I'm just a blather-mouthed, good-fer-nuthin' silly little girl, but I got my heart set on being an actress, and I'll do just about anything to get my foot in the door and get some experience. If you could find it in your heart to let me help, even just back stage or painting sets or anything at all, I'd work without pay. I'd even change jobs so I could be available when you need me!" she offered. 

 

Fearing lest Mr. Simons might think this statement vague and mere pie in the sky dreaming, she elucidated with more concrete details.

 

"Please don't tell Mrs Devereaux or Miss Mundee, but I been offered a job at the funeral parlour and that'd leave me free to work in the theater in the evenings and if I thought there was a chance that you'd take me on, why, I'd bite the bullet and go an' snatch Mr. Jolly's hand off this very mornin'!"

 

The local undertaker, at least, had some appreciation of the Mudd girl's talents.

 

@JulieS

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Ben's eyes started to glaze over a little as he listened to Arabella.  Every time he was about to respond, she would say something else.  Then she mentioned some job she had at the funeral parlour and not wanting her current employer to know about it.

 

Having no intention of getting involved with the girl's life, Ben smiled, "You can count on me on being discrete.  As far as I'm concerned, it's something for you and Miss Devereau to sort out."

 

For a moment, he wondered where Clara was with his breakfast.  His food arriving would be a welcome break from Arabella's prattling...in fact any interruption would be better than this.  Taking another quick glance around, he could see no-one of his acquaintance.  So now he would have to think of something to get rid of the girl but didn't look he was trying to.  He had a reputation of his own to take care of and the last thing he wanted was to be seen treating anybody in a callous way especially in a public place.

 

Thinking about how he could get rid of Arabella, took only a few seconds before he hit on an idea.  "I'll let you in on a secret."

 

Shifting his chair slightly closer to hers to show that what he was about was very confidential.  He leaned slightly forward and whispered, "I admire your interest in the theatre, so I think you should be one of the first to know that sometime in the future I plan to hold auditions.  I can't say exactly when they will be on, but I want you to know just the same."

 

@Javia @Wayfarer

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Thinking about how he could get rid of Arabella, took only a few seconds before he hit on an idea. "I'll let you in on a secret."

 

Arabella gasped with excitement and leaned forward over the table so he could whisper in her ear: she loved secrets! 

 

Shifting his chair slightly closer to hers to show that what he was about was very confidential.  He leaned slightly forward and whispered, "I admire your interest in the theatre, so I think you should be one of the first to know that sometime in the future I plan to hold auditions.  I can't say exactly when they will be on, but I want you to know just the same."

 

"Oh, Mr Simons, I'm all ready fer a audition. In fact, let's save time and I'll do mine right now!" she yelped excitedly, pushing back her chair with a horrible, jarring scraping noise on the wooden floor and taking a few steps back, nearer to the Weavers, so he could appreciate her in all her histrionic glory. 

 

She threw a dramatic attitude and launched into a soliloquy.

 

"Under my battlements. Come, you spirits; That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here!" she shouted, shaking her fists at the ceiling: the sex part eliciting a little squeak of horror from Mrs Weaver.


She continued with Lady MacBeth's monologue; what she lacked in polished acting skill, she more than made up for in enthusiasm and volume, ending with the line.

"Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers!"

 

She really wanted to rend her garments apart at this point, but her work smock made that impractical, so instead she contented herself with pulling it down at the front a bit and exposing a goodly patch of white bony chest the clavicle plainly poking through her translucent skin.

 

"Cease this filthy display, child!" cried Mr Weaver, standing.

 

@Wayfarer @JulieS

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Clara had her work cut out for her, the Weavers breakfasts needed to be done and then of course Mr. Simons which put her in the kitchen so she could not wait on any other newly arriving customers. Turned out that, so far at least, it was only Arabella Mudd and she wasn't there as a paying customer. Mixed blessing really.

 

Just as Clara was bringing on out the two plates for the Weavers she could hear Ara's easily recognizable voice, was she doing Shakespeare? There she was standing in the middle of the diner floor and just then ....

 

"Cease this filthy display, child!" cried Mr Weaver, standing.

 

Oh this was not good. The Weavers were steady customers and Emeline would not be pleased to find out she had lost them as regulars. What had happened?

 

"Ara, what on earth are you doing anyhow?" she frowned at her admittedly weird friend, if it wasn't one thing with Arabella, it was another.

 

But she also wanted to interrupt whatever this budding disaster was all about by appealing to the Weavers' stomaches.

 

"I am sorry, Mr. Weaver. But please, sit down again, I have your breakfasts nice and warm," she marched up to their table and set the plates down in front of the two, "Enjoy."

 

Then she turned to Arabella, "Are you here to order something, dear? If not kindly do not disturb the customers. Speaking of which, Mr. Simon, I have your breakfast started and hopefully I can bring it out real soon."

 

More-Clara.jpg

 

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As soon as Arabella launched into her "audition", Ben felt like crawling under the table.  He had been warned but in his desperation to get rid of the girl, he had unleashed her.  Thankfully, Weaver spoke up to end the tortue...

 

"Cease this filthy display, child!" cried Mr Weaver, standing.

 

Ben nodded his head vigorously, "Yes, please stop."

 

Before he could get in another word, Clara appear and took control of the situation...

 

"Ara, what on earth are you doing anyhow?" she frowned at her admittedly weird friend, if it wasn't one thing with Arabella, it was another.

 

But she also wanted to interrupt whatever this budding disaster was all about by appealing to the Weavers' stomaches.

 

"I am sorry, Mr. Weaver. But please, sit down again, I have your breakfasts nice and warm," she marched up to their table and set the plates down in front of the two, "Enjoy."

 

Then she turned to Arabella, "Are you here to order something, dear? If not kindly do not disturb the customers. Speaking of which, Mr. Simon, I have your breakfast started and hopefully I can bring it out real soon."

 

Ben smiled, "Thank you, ma'am."

 

While Clara was handling the Weavers and Arabella, it gave Ben time to think of what to say next.  He turned to Arabella with a disappointed look on his face, "My dear, when someone tells someone something that is supposed to be in confidence, they expect it to stay that way.  Now that you have let the cat out of the bag by auditioning here and now, people will know what I am planning.  I'm afraid, I'll have to cancel the auditions for local talent and send for some out of town professionals."

 

@Javia @Wayfarer

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